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Zhang threatening to run away with Founders Cup and end Korda's bid for sixth straight LPGA win

Rose Zhang Rose Zhang - The Canadian Press

CLIFTON, N.J. (AP) — Nelly Korda has no intention of letting anyone run away with the Cognizant Founders Cup and end her bid to become the first player to win six straight LPGA Tour tournaments.

Hear that Rose Zhang and Madelene Sagstrom.

Faced with a 10-stroke deficit starting her second round Friday in the event that honors the tour's founding members, Korda shot a bogey-free 6-under 66 in cold, damp conditions to move into third place, four shots behind leaders Zhang and Sagstrom with 36 holes to play.

The round matched the best of the day, which Sagstrom established less than an hour earlier in the afternoon. Zhang, who tied Sagstrom's tournament record with a 63 on Thursday, had a 68 playing in the morning.

The 20-year-old Zhang and the 31-year-old Swede, who are tied at 13-under 131 on the Upper Montclair Country Club, each have won once on the LPGA Tour. After failing to win in in her first start, the 25-year-old Korda has done nothing but win, with the current run of five tying Hall of Famers Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam for the tour record.

Korda had six birdies, capped with a roughly 6-footer at the par-4 18th. Her four-shot deficit at the halfway point isn't bad. She trailed by five shots at the Seri Pak Championship, by four at the Ford Championship and six strokes in the T-Mobile Match Play where the field was cut after the third round.

“I putted really well today," said Korda, who started when Zhang finished and didn't know how much ground she had to make up. “Even when I didn’t hit it close, my putts just scared the hole. Overall, very pleased with how I played today and hopefully I can take that into the next 36 holes.”

Zhang, a two-time NCAA champion at Stanford, won the Mizuho Americas Open in her professional debut a year ago.

“”It’s really just me trying to stay as composed as possible," said Zhang, who had five birdies and her first bogey. “I’m really enjoying it and for the most part, I think there is always learning curves. So no matter what happens the next two days, I’m going to take it all in.”

Zhang, who finished her college degree after playing in the first tournament of the season, is playing in her seventh event of the year. She has missed two cuts and and finished no better than fifth in the other four.

Sagstrom, who finished third here two years ago and 10th last year, had seven birdies, an eagle, a bogey and a double bogey in tying for the lead. Despite her success here, the Swede has to be considered the long shot among the leaders.

"This the position everyone wants to be in," she said. "You want to be up on the leaderboard. You want to play against the best players. You want your game to be the best every week. If not, be considered one of the best players in the world. These are the reasons I play. This is what everyone is trying to do. It’s a good position to be in."

Yan Liu of China was fourth at 138, one shot ahead of Mel Reid of England, who was at 5 under. Lydia Ko, who needs a win to qualify for the Hall of Fame, was 4 under along with a group that included 2022 winner Minjee Lee and Hannah Green, a two-time winner this year. Defending champion Jin Young Ko was at 3 under.


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